- Buyer's Guide
The Best Apps for Traveling with One Bag
When you’re traveling with one bag, you need to be picky about what you’re packing. But luckily, apps don’t take up any space in your bag. And in a digital world with so many tech tools at your disposal, they can make a big difference to the ease and enjoyment of your travels. Helping you to navigate unknown cities without needing to pack weighty guide books or maps. Assisting you in discovering enticing restaurants and great attractions. Letting you interact with locals even if you don’t speak their language. Uncovering great deals on accommodation. Keeping on track of your budget. Minimizing the amount of papers and documents you need to carry. And much more. So if you’re looking to travel light but still carry a ton of information at the ready, discover some prime app picks to enhance traveling with one bag and make the whole travel experience much smoother…
Navigation and transport
Whether you’re traveling by car, public transport, walking or cycling, Google Maps will help you get directions from A to B and everywhere in between. It’s also handy for accessing information about local attractions such as restaurants, hotels, food shops and more and getting a real-time idea of how busy they may be. Oh, and pro-top: you can download complete maps and navigate off-line when wi-fi’s hard to find. It’s available for Android and iOS.
Not sure you’ll have ready access to a reliable internet connection on your travels? Or don’t want to mount up expensive roaming charges for navigation needs? With MAPS.ME you don’t need an internet connection. You can download maps in advance and navigate them in real time via GPS. Plus it highlights nearby attractions such as accommodation, public transport spots and dining establishments.
Citymapper helps you easily navigate public transport in a number of major cities across the world. The app uses real-time information across a range of transport options to help you get to your specified destination, including train, taxi, bus, ferry and walking options. Additionally you can receive live updates for service changes, arrivals and departures, as well as take advantage of ridesharing if desired.
Moovit is another good option for getting around via public transit. You can check bus arrival times and train schedules, as well as service alerts. Plus with live journey tracking you’ll be notified when it’s your stop. It’s available for both Android and iOS.
Available in a host of countries, Uber is the go-to option for many users who want the benefits of a taxi without having to hunt for a taxi rank or flag one down (and likely saving a little moolah along the way). Once you enter your departure and destination details, you can choose from available rides nearby and track your driver to your pickup location.
Want to know how to get anywhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car? Rome2rio is designed to track multiple routes and transport options for getting you to your destination, whether you’re traveling within one country or globetrotting around the world.
Looking for accommodation options? Hostelworld delivers in spades, covering thousands of hostels, hotels and B&Bs across the world. And with helpful user reviews you can pick a place that’s just right for your needs.
Airbnb opens up a wide choice of accommodation options that can often end up working out cheaper than hotels. Whether you want a room or an entire place, you can pick and choose to suit your preferences. And your host will often be a great source of information and tips to help you experience the location like a local. Additionally, Airbnb also lets you search local travel experiences if you’re keen to add activities to your itinerary. Get it on iOS or Android.
HotelTonight can help you score great discounts on last-minute accommodation bookings through partnering with hotels that offer discounts on their empty rooms. Handy if other accommodation falls through or you’re simply searching for an enticing deal.
If your travel budget is tight, Couchsurfing can help you save on accommodation costs. The app lets you find places to stay for free with locals and is also a handy means of meeting up with fellow travelers.
You need accommodation and you’ve got skills. Worldpackers helps you exchange those skills for accommodation around the world, from hostels to homestays and more. Whether you want to teach English, offer housekeeping or cooking skills, are good with DIY or decorating or have green fingers in the gardening department, you’ve got plenty of options for finding a great match.
Flights, airports and transport
Don’t have the time or inclination to search numerous websites for great deals on flights, accommodation or car hire? No problem. Skyscanner does it for you. The app also informs you of the cheapest times to fly as well as providing alerts for flight price changes.
Kayak is another handy all-in-one option for finding good deals on flights, hotels and car hire, searching numerous websites on your behalf. Kayak will let you know the cheapest times to fly and will also provide airport maps, real-time updates on your flight status, security wait times and more. Plus it lets you store flight and accommodation details in one easily accessible location.
Overcoming language barriers
Are language barriers holding you back from exploring? Google Translate can help you get out and about and interact more easily. It offers text translation of 103 languages (with offline translation for 53), as well as the ability to translate text in images captured by your phone camera. It also accommodates speech translation and on-screen handwriting translation. Download it for iOS or Android.
If you’ve got time to spare before your trip, Duolingo can help you learn the language of your chosen destination. Suitable for beginners and more advanced users alike, it’s convenient whether you’re looking to become fluent or just want to know a few key phrases.
Travel guides and trip planners
Places to stay. Things to do. Where to eat. Flights and car hire. TripAdvisor covers all of this and more, almost anywhere in the world. Wherever you’re going, TripAdvisor is one of the all-time great traveler resources well worth having at your fingertips.
Yelp is a helpful all-in-one source covering a wide variety of niches you may find useful on your travels. If you’re looking for local places to eat, nightlife options, activities, shopping, accommodation or local services such as medical centers, it can be a great place to start your search. And with its user reviews you can quickly find the gems and discard the duds.
Looking for a trip planner that keeps important reservation information at the ready while helping you discover a variety of attractions and activities? Google Trips stores and organizes travel reservations including flights, accommodation and car hire from Gmail in one place, keeping the information accessible even if you’re offline. Plus it can automatically provide day trip suggestions or you can customize trips based on local attractions including things to do and places to eat.
TripIt keeps your itinerary at the ready, with useful information about flight details, car hire, accommodation bookings and more all easily accessible in one location. Plus the info is accessible even when you’re offline. And if you’re looking for added features such as flight status alerts, seat and fare trackers, airport navigation and more, you can upgrade to TripIt Pro.
Love getting active outdoors on your travels? AllTrails helps you find walking, trail running, hiking and cycling trails in your area. You can search according to difficulty ratings, lengths, or other features such as whether they’re dog or child-friendly.
If you’re planning a trip to Europe this app is well worth downloading. It offers a range of self-guided walking tours covering popular European destinations and is a good way to learn about your destination while saving some cash by avoiding paying for local tours.
Worried about forgetting to pack important items? PackPoint helps you create a packing list based on your destination, trip duration and activities you’re planning to do. You can adjust the list to add or remove items as required, as well as share your list with fellow travelers.
Keeping track of your carry weight is important with one-bag travel. And LighterPack helps you do that. You can create packing lists detailing specific gear items and what they weigh and mark them according to different categories such as wearables, consumables or standard packable items. A handy app that will appeal to ultralight enthusiasts too.
Want to keep notes on your travels? Store trip tips and suggestions? Keep important documents such as insurance or medical files or copies of your passport at the ready if required? Evernote lets you do all this and more.
Worried about your phone going missing? This app keeps track of your tech, alerting you if it goes out of a control zone and providing a location history. It can also help you wipe data, retrieve files and encrypt data remotely.
Want to maintain your privacy while using public or accommodation Wi-Fi networks? NordVPN is a virtual private network that helps keep you protected. Plus it can help you access certain websites or TV shows that might be blocked in your travel destination. Note there are numerous VPN services to choose from, so it’s worth comparing them to see which one best suits your needs and budget.
While you hope they never happen, in the event of medical emergencies you want your medical information easily accessible. This app stores relevant medical information on your phone, keeping it accessible from the lock screen in case it’s required by first responders or medics.
This free app keeps important first aid information easily accessible, with no internet connection required. Emergency numbers in the app are UK-based, though the first aid information is relevant for users around the globe.
Another useful first aid option that’s helpful for users across the world. And for American-based users it’s integrated with 9-1-1 for EMS calls via the app.
Delayed, cancelled or overbooked flights are a real pain. But while you may have to suffer them, that doesn’t mean you have to do so without compensation. AirHelp is designed to help you claim any compensation you may be entitled to, going through the claims process on your behalf.
Expense trackers and currency conversion
Keeping on top of travel expenses can be tricky. But Trail Wallet takes the hassle out of doing so, providing a place to record all your expenses and help you monitor how you’re doing according to your daily budget.
Tripcoin is another handy expense tracker that assists you in seeing what you’re spending your money on and how well you’re sticking to your budget.
Splitwise is convenient if you’ll be traveling with others and want to keep track of shared expenses. It lets you know who owes what and helps keep things fair and accurate on the money front.
Not sure what something costs in the local currency compared to your own? This currency converter provides live exchange rates, plus the ability to store recent rates if you need to make a conversion offline.
Staying in touch
Video calls, SMS messages, cheap landline calls. However you like to keep in touch with friends and family (or contact useful numbers during your travels), Skype can help you do so. Skype to Skype calls are free (though an internet connection is still required), or you can enjoy very reasonably charged calls through Skype credit.
Google Hangouts lets you exchange messages and engage in video or voice calls, whether you’re talking to one person or a group. And calls to Hangouts users are free. You’ll just need that all-important internet connection.
WhatsApp lets you connect with friends and family back home or new people you meet on your travels, all in real time, as long as you have an internet connection. And it’s free, which is always useful for protecting that travel budget.
Free video and text chat? As long as you’re connected to the internet, Facebook Messenger has you covered.
It’s impossible to cover every useful travel app in one article. So if you’ve got a top recommendation that isn’t listed above, help your fellow travelers out by sharing it in the comments below…
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